Monday, 23 March 2009

Explaining Disability

I went straight from the bureau to meet a friend for a swim at lunch time.  It's meant to be a regular weekly thing but we started in January and I think it's probably the 4th time we've been so it's not very weekly just yet.  But soon, I hope.

After we'd been in the pool for a while three or four other PWD came into the pool, people with physical disabilities but also some learning disabilities too.  I know one of them (and one of the carers) vaguely through the Friday swimming group I used to go too.

They were still in the pool when we got out but there was a little girl and her mum in the showers when we were in them.  I'd say the girl was 2 or 3.  So not good at judging ages though.

A while later and showered and dressed I saw said mum and daughter over by the mirror drying hair.  And they saw me.  As I approached on my way to the coffee shop and a much needed sandwich I heard the mum start to explain how there are some disabled people who swim on a Monday.

I slowed down a bit so I could hear part of the explanation.  She explained how some people have arms or legs that don't work properly and that's why I was in my chair and some of the other PWD had carers helping them or walkers, because we need extra help.  And she told her daughter it was called disabled and it was OK, it  meant we were just different.  They were lucky, she said, because they had arms and legs that work.

I didn't hear the entire explanation as I couldn't hang around to listen without it being seriously obvious.  And I didn't have the nerve to tell her how happy I was to hear her explaining and how impressed I was by the explanation she gave.  I wish I had.

As I went up the ramp and looped back around past the top of the stairs and into the coffee shop I heard a little more (they were by the bottom of the four or so stairs) of her explanation - that there were many different reasons why but it was called disabled.

With all of the Cerrie Burnell related kerfuffle there was lately my main thought has always been that it's not disabilities that scare kids but parents who are scared of the disabilities themselves.  So it was refreshing to see a parent not ignore it, not panic, but simply explain it.

1 comment:

E said...

Hi Emma,

Great Blog. I love this posting because the mother was very matter-of-fact and unsentimental in her attitude and explanation, so the little girl wasn't frightened. I've had some strange reactions to my CP and braces, and I am learning to live in a chair now, which is also cause for people being anything from ignorant to outlandishly funny in their commentary. My current blog (I've only been blogging since January) has just a bit about my disability on it. I will be putting up another blog soon. I am looking to meet other bloggers who live and work with CP and other disabilities and have wide ranging interests. Thanks for a great post.


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